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Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries [Paperback]

Arend Lijphart
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 11 1999
In this updated and expanded edition of his highly acclaimed book Democracies, Arend Lijphart offers a broader and deeper analysis of worldwide democratic institutions than ever before. Examining thirty-six democracies during the half-century from 1945 to 1996, Lijphart arrives at important -- and unexpected -- conclusions about what type of democracy works best. While conventional wisdom suggests that majoritarian democracies like those in the United States and Great Britain are superior to consensual systems like those in Switzerland and Israel, Lijphart shows this is not so. In fact, consensual systems stimulate economic growth, control inflation and unemployment, and limit budget deficits just as well as majoritarian democracies do. And, consensus democracies clearly outperform majoritarian systems on measures of political equality, women's representation, citizen participation in elections, and proximity between government policies and voter preferences.Systematically comparing cabinets, legislatures, parties, election systems, supreme courts, and -- for the first time in this volume -- interest groups and central banks, Lijphart demonstrates that the more consensual a democracy, the "kinder and gentler" it is when addressing welfare, environmental, criminal justice, and foreign aid issues. These findings are of far-reaching import not only for countries designing their first democratic constitutions but also for established democracies seeking practical approaches to reform.

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Format:Paperback
This revision of Lijphart's Classic 'Democracies' is a first-rate survey of 36 democracies, which focuses on the relationships between a number of political variables. One of the most striking features of the book is the manner in which Lijphart divides the book into 10 areas of inquiry (e.g. electoral systems, party formations, executive power, etc.), devoting one chapter per area. He reviews the theory regarding the area of interest, while also attempting to use applied examples from the 36 countries to illustrate that theory. He then tries to construct rough numerical indices to outline more formally the degree and extent to which qualitative differences exist. This helps in conceptualizing how (dis)similar two countries are with respect to one another.
The other outstanding aspect of the book is that by the end, the reader is broadly familiar with the structure of all 36 democracies. You walk away understanding how diverse the party formations of federal Germany are, or how UK Commonwealths tend to mirror their colonial power in terms of parliamentary power, centralisation of power, and so forth.
Because of its lucid and and pragmatic structure, as well as its strong comparative approach, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about what features differentiate democracies and why France is or is not similar to Japan or Paupa New Guinea--an excellent study by a classic thinker!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not nearly what the original was Jan. 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Unfortunately not everything gets better with time. The original 1984 version of this book was stellar. An excellent introduction to comparative politics. Easily accessible to undergraduates and a useful reference for early graduates. Unfortunately the new book adds nothing to the original insights and uses surprisingly poor statistical methodology to force points when the data are simply not supportive. At times the author even admits to "arbitrarily selecting thresholds." As a result of the alarmingly poor methodology employed I can no longer use this text as a key componant of my undergraduate comparative politics courses. For graduates I would use it only as an example of what not to do.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lijphart fan Feb. 6 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
To the reader from California
Arend Lijphart is a staple of political science honours classes in Australia with good reason. As for the Communist manifesto - good in theory - not so good in practice - all people need the right to free expression 'cos they're humans capable of independent thought - they're not drones! Cf. fall of eastern bloc!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent textbook March 20 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a successor to Lijphart's Democracies, which covered twenty-two countries. It is expanded to include LDCs like India, Costa Rica and Jamaica.
This is the first text to cover the full range of democracies, and do so in an interesting and useful way.
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